This isn’t going to be a typical review article for a psychology therapy session. Why? Simply because I am not an average writer, and mental health is not an average matter. On that note, I decided to take part in a group therapy session for women, as the title intrigued me. Judge Me Not, was open to the individual interpretation of the participants. Group therapy as a whole sounded like a completely whack new-age idea that scared the living daylights out of me. But hey, don’t diss it till you try it?
The session was conducted online though originally scheduled to be done at Greenwings Psychology Centre as a face to face session. Personally, I believe that a face to face session would have been more intimate and beneficial for the participants, as it created a safe space for open discussion away from the regular environments of the ladies in the group. Well, the best laid plans of men and mice. With the rise in COVID-19 cases, the facilitators believed it to be more prudent to do this online for now.
Mediated by a psychology consultant, a well-known figure in the field of psychology, for her great work throughout the community through her approaches towards rehabilitating addicts in a holistic way and bringing them back to society as functioning and valuable people. She started the session with a brief introduction into what Greenwings Psychology Centre is, and her vision and mission for spreading awareness of mental health through different programmes.
11 ladies was a good sized group for a session, all coming from varying demographics, and all with some little worry in their eyes, which I could only perceive to be fear, possibly the fear of revealing personal experiences to complete strangers.Three ground rules for the session were established: We should not force anyone to speak if they weren’t comfortable, we should respect everyone’s story and opinion, and everything discussed in the session was to be kept strictly confidential. Basic, no-frills, common sense sort of rules, but always good to have those said out for clarity.
We then moved on to a grounding session that I found to be quite interesting. We were made to engage all the five senses to ensure that we were present and focused during the session, by observing 5 items in our surrounding environment, touching 4 items, listening to 3 sounds, being aware of 2 scents, and tasting the last thing we could taste in our mouths. It brought a sense of mindfulness that eases you away from the physical and mental distractions we all have, that would hamper the effectiveness of the therapy session.
Without breaking confidentiality, I heard and shared stories of being judged for not speaking their mother tongue fluently, for not speaking English fluently, for being judged on the size of their bodies whether fat or thin, even being judged for extending kindness towards others. The more shy participants stepped forward eventually to share how it made them feel to be judged for different things, or how being judged by loved ones hurt more than being judged by strangers. Yes, there were tears, emotions flew freely but that release for the ladies was powerfully cathartic.
My greatest takeaway from my time spent with these ladies: When you judge yourself harshly, you open the doors for the world’s unavoidable judgement to affect you deeply. Thus, Judge Me Not, simply means finding peace to not judge yourself, so that you can cease to judge or feel judged externally. To quote the psychologist, “You need to break the pattern of how people perceive you, by perceiving yourself in a positive light first.”
I left the session with some new thoughts and ideas. New practices that I wanted to make into positive habits moving forward. I wanted to be more mindful, and practice that simple grounding technique daily. I suddenly became part of an accepting group of women, who lift and support each other through their own struggles. Group therapy sounded like a scary idea at first, and here I am now, writing a glowing review of my experience.